Week 2 Update

Monday:

The start of Week 2 of the trip starts another round of stress, and anxiety. We started out at the Bell Canada store to get a pre-paid phone that would work in the north-west part of Canada on our way up and then back. After that we headed out to find a Chevrolet dealer. They were very helpful and did some calling around to places they knew that could work on carbureted engines. I was referred to a place called Kartunes in the NW section of Edmonton.

We drove up there and the guy that runs the place was very accommodating – looking at it right away. We took off with the car to go do laundry. When we came back, he said we had low fuel pressure and that the in-tank pump wasn’t working, He had an external pump to put in, but needed to wait until morning to get a couple of the fittings. He offered to let us stay in the RV on his lot so we wouldn’t need to get a hotel for the night, and even let us plug in so we could watch some local TV.

That evening the girls and I went to the West Edmonton Mall, which is the largest mall in North America. It has a water park in it! Zip-lining too. We watched part of the invitational hockey tournament that was going on in the hockey arena in the middle of the mall (hey – it’s Canada, gotta have a hockey rink in the mall). It was US teams against Canadian teams.

Tuesday:

On Tuesday morning we went to Walmart for washroom facilities and then hung out in the nearby park and slept in the car. I wanted the extra rest so that I could drive late and try to make up some of the lost time. We checked in with the shop and he needed another hour, so we walked up to the Wendy’s on the corner. About 1 pm we were hooking up and getting ready to leave. Costco was around the corner and I took that opportunity to fuel up with the cheapest gas I would see for some time.

The RV ran great leaving Edmonton for about 3 hours. Then, climbing a hill it started dying again like it had before. I pulled over at the crest of the hill and got out and climbed under. I could feel the new electric fuel pump working, but then the engine died. While underneath, I knocked on the tank. It sounded empty. In fact it was empty. Somehow I didn’t get the tank f illed when at Costco. Opportunity to hook the tank selector valve back up. We fueld up fully at the next stop and then drove until about 11 pm to get to Fort Saint John, BC. In Dawson Creek we met up with the Alaskan Highway.

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└ Reaching the Alaska Highway (finally!) in Dawson Creek, BC.

Wednesday:

We spent the night at the Wal-Mart in Ft. St. John, and then got back on the road. I was looking to make it to Watson Lake. If we could do this, then we could be back on schedule and not miss a night in Dawson City, which is where my next paid campground reservations were at.

Along the way we finally got to see some northern wildlife. We passed two herd of Bison along the road, and saw 3 different black bears grazing on berries along the highway.

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└ Bison along the Alaska Highway

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└ Black Bear along the Alaska Highway

We stopped in Fort Nelson to eat lunch, get gas, and wait out a crazy rainstorm for about an hour. Then it was on to Watson Lake. We arrived there about 11 pm and checked out the Signpost Forest, then slept for the night in a roadside pulloff.

Thursday:

IMG_1299Today was another long day of driving. 500-plus miles to get to Dawson Cty, Yukon. We saw our first grizzly along th road, but weren’t able to get a phot of it. Mid-day we pulled into Whitehorse (the capital of Yukon Territory) and stopped at Wal-Mart. This is where First Niagara finally decided to fraud-lock my debit card. Had to call and be on the phone for 20 minutes verifying every transaction.

After resolving that and being able to fuel up, we left the Alaska Highway to take the Klondike Highway to Dawson City. Arrived there at about 10 pm. We setup at the RV park in town and ate some food and off to sleep.

Friday:

Went exploring around Dawson City area. We drove up the Dome Rd to the top of Midnight Dome. There is a little park right on the top with 360-degree views around the whole valley.

IMG_1341Later, we drove up to Dredge #4 and to the KVA Free Claim #6, where the kids went panning for gold using the frisbees that were in the car.

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Saturday:

On Saturday, we just hung around the RV park and town. I did some work on the RV to get the freshwater system working – I had to fix the leak on the bathroom faucet pipes and found and fixed a cracked inlet on the side of the RV. Some silicone and epoxy later and we had working sinks in the RV for the first time this trip. The kids appreciated not having to lug the dishes up to the public sink to wash them.

We also took the ferry across the river with the car, so we could see ahead of time how that operation worked, before doing it with the RV/car combination.

Sunday:

IMG_1383Time to head nack to the US and make our way into Alaska for the first time. We took the ferry across the Yukon River and headed up the Top of the World Highway. This is a mostly gravel road that follows the ridgeline all the way to the border – about 60 miles. At least this road was in good shape.

We crossed into Alaska at the border with no issues. The US Border Agent asked me how long we were planning on staying. I really felt like saying “We’re US citizens entering the US – we can stay as long as we damn well please” but knew better and just answered “about 3 weeks”.

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The road to Chicken was by far the worst road I’ve ever been on. Narrow, winding, steep, and filled with ruts and pot holes. Travel on this stretch (called the Taylor Highway) slow and about 30 mph. We stopped briefly in Chicken, and then headed on to our destination in Tok. We stayed at a state-run campground on the Tok River just outside of town.

Stay tuned.

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